Supplier-selected referrals

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Marketing, 2014, 78 (2), pp. 34 - 51
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© 2014, American Marketing Association In business-to-business markets, suppliers often ask an existing customer to provide a referral for them (i.e., a supplier-selected referral), in which the supplier selects a referrer to influence a specific potential customer favorably. The selection of the referrer is important because the right referrer providing the right message can generate business for the supplier. To study supplier-selected referrals, the authors extend the dyadic source-message-recipient communication framework to propose a framework that incorporates the supplier and the supplier's management of the communication between the referrer and the potential customer. They label this framework the Managed Triadic Communication (MaTriC) framework. The authors conduct three experimental studies in which they apply the MaTriC framework to the domain of supplier-selected referrals and focus on the contingent role of supplier uncertainty. The authors find that the benefits of a supplier-selected referral are contingent on supplier uncertainty. For example, their findings imply that an outsupplier should focus on selecting a referrer that would give an all-positive evaluation (vs. a balanced evaluation), whereas an insupplier should focus on selecting a highly credible referrer, even if that referral does not provide an all-positive evaluation of the supplier.
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